TOKYO – Tumua Manu sealed a sensational comeback by the Chiefs who stunned the Crusaders 40-27 to keep their slim Super Rugby play-off hopes alive.
In a 10-try extravaganza and one of the better matches of the season, the Crusaders made an explosive start piling on 20 points in a 12-minute burst against an ineffectual Chiefs defence.
The Chiefs, who chose to take their home game to the rugby-mad Pacific island nation, struck back with three quick tries to close the gap to 20-19 at half-time.
There was little between the sides in the second half until replacement back Manu's late heroics.
It meant the Chief's slim hope of making the final eight remains alive while the Crusaders are still two points short of being guaranteed the top spot.
Chiefs captain Sam Cane credited his outside backs "for sparking our attack on turnover ball" to get the side going "and from there it was just an arm wrestle".
"I'm just incredibly proud. That's one I'll remember. It gives us just a sniff, but what a performance."
An exchange of converted tries at the start of the second spell kept the margin at one-point and the match remained on a knife-edge.
In the 66th minute, a Shaun Stevenson try put the Chiefs in front for the first time and as the Crusaders battle to regain the lead, Manu scored the match-defining try.
For the Chiefs Solomon Alaimalo, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Jesse Parete, Brad Weber, Stevenson and Manu scored tries. Jack Debrezceni landed five conversions.
For the Crusaders, Scott Barrett, Mitchell Drummond, Seve Reece and Braydon Ennor scored tries with Richie Mo'unga landing two conversions and a penalty.AFP